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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Tube Notching

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Tube Notching


00:00 - As we've already learned, tube is a key material used in a lot of motorsport fabrication tasks and this is because of it's excellent strength to weight ratio.
00:09 By joining tube and creating a structure, we can build some incredibly strong parts without a lot of weight.
00:15 This comes with its own challenges though, chiefly the complex intersection points where our tubes join together.
00:22 This intersection point requires us to perform a notch which is sometimes known as a mitre or a cope in our tube so that it sits perfectly up against our joining tube with a minimal gap.
00:33 Peforming this notch can be done a few different ways and it's a good idea to test out a few of these different methods to figure out what works best for you and what creates a better finish for your particular project.
00:44 Before we notch our tube, first we need to work out a few measurements that will be needed.
00:49 These include the angle of the notch, the diameter of the notch and also the centreline of our tube.
00:55 To get the angle of our notch, we need to start by working out the angle of our intersecting tubes.
01:01 This can be done in many ways but the easiest option was with the use of a digital angle gauge.
01:07 As our tube is yet to be notched, it may not fit in the area we need to measure and for this reason, it's always helpful to keep a few offcuts lying around so that we can sit a test piece in the location that needs to be measured.
01:19 By opening up the angle gauge to sit flat against both lengths of tube, we have the intended angle of our notch.
01:26 Once we record that angle we can then mark out a few lines of reference on the tube to let us know which end is which and what direction our notch will go in.
01:34 Now that we have our measurements and we're ready to perform our notch, let's discuss the different ways in which we can mark and cut the notch, starting with the template method.
01:44 Your best bet here is to use our own HPA online notching calculator.
01:48 This simple tool can be found in the resources section of the course and is able to generate a printable paper template that can be used as an easy way to mark out our intended notch.
01:58 This calculator takes into account the tube diameter we're cutting, the tube diameter we're looking to fit up against, the wall thickness and the notch angle that we found with our angle gauge.
02:09 Once this information is keyed in, it will generate a printable template that we can cut out and then centre on our tube, wrap around, mark and eventually cut out and finish for the perfect notch.
02:20 If this seems like a little too much effort and you have a lot of notching to do then it may be a good idea to purchase a tube notcher instead.
02:27 These come in varying designs and most will perform the exact same role but you may want to check the range of angles that these notchers can work with before purchasing.
02:37 A tube notcher uses a hole saw on an extended arbour that runs through a large bearing which is mounted to a plate that can swivel in relation to a clamp which is then used to hold the tube we want to notch.
02:48 Some notchers are designed to be clamped in your pedestal drill while others are freestanding.
02:53 The adjustable angle is used to match the angle of the notch we need to create with the hole saw.
02:59 The size of the hole saw is dictated by the diameter of the tube we're looking to fit up against.
03:04 A good tip here is to use the fine tooth style hole saws as these produce a cleaner cut and reduce the wear and tear on both the drill and the notcher.
03:13 The third method of notching is simply working the tube with a grinder into the shape you need.
03:18 This is a more time consuming process and it requires an iterative approach of test fitting followed by grinding and shaping and then more test fitting in order to get a perfect result but a little patience is all that's really needed.
03:31 This method is used a lot where the fit up is difficult to measure or the tube is of a smaller diameter.
03:37 Working the tube into position is done by marking the tube's notch by eye, removing the excess material, marking again to make sure you're on the right track, grinding away your markings and then filing the notch for the perfect fit up.
03:49 This manual method of working the tube into position becomes easier the more you do it and it'll speed up the process if you have two angle grinders on hand for this purpose.
03:59 One for roughing out and cutting and a 1 mm cut off disc and one for shaping with a radiused edge flap disc.
04:05 Even if you're using a tube notcher, some amount of final adjustment of the finished notch is usually required so your angle grinder, linisher and files can still be important to get the perfect fit up with a minimal gap.

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